Czech Director Petr Vachler: The Meaning and Mystery of Life

    The Meaning and Mystery of Life by Petr Vachler The Meaning and Mystery of Life by Petr Vachler credit: Tomáš Kostěnec, Vachler Art Company

    PRAGUE: More than 10 years in the making, this unique production looks set to attract global audiences as it tackles universal questions and tries to find answers. The film is set to premiere later this year.

    Petr Vachler's The Meaning and Mystery of Life / Tajemství a smyslživota Introduced in an Interview with the Director

    The shooting of The Meaning and Mystery of Life, part feature film, part documentary and animation, started in 2012 and the premiere is planned for November 2023. What is the meaning of life? Is it time for the reveal? Petr Vachler introduced his upcoming film and circumstances of its creation in the interview for FNE.

    FNE: In what stage of your life did you start thinking about making a film with this theme?

    Petr Vachler: The main impulse came after a group session with friends and Toltecs in 2009 in Xochitecatl, Mexico. I talked to them about a powerful meditation I had the previous day. As I talked, I found myself in a strange state of heightened perception. I felt vibrations in my body. I spoke another language. Emotionally, I went thousands of years back in time. The same thing happened several times since. It has been pointed out to me, that who I was and who I am is irrelevant. All that matters is what you do NOW. Around 60 respondents talk about similar things in the film.

    FNE: How did you choose the personalities who speak in the film?

    Petr Vachler: The choice was guided by intuition. People I interviewed came naturally into my life. We went to lectures and festivals and invited people to our studios. Many are bestselling authors, others are less known. What is important is what they told me at that moment, during a long interview in front of the camera, not only about the meaning of life.

    FNE: Why did you choose a combination of feature and documentary film with animation?

    Petr Vachler: I know that everything in life is interrelated, so why couldn’t different forms of art and genres intermingle? Although it was originally supposed to be a documentary, I realised that people love stories. I decided to combine it with fiction so that it is both authentic and has artistic qualities of a feature film. And the animation? I did not find a two-meter bumblebee with a human head.

    FNE: What symbolism does the bee figure narrator have in the film?

    Petr Vachler: I originally wrote a version where the human protagonist, i.e. Honza Budař, was accompanied by his own older self. But then I decided that he needs a cosmic guide instead, a representative of nature. Bumblebee is the first spring pollinator, it brings life. I wanted Mother Earth to play the leading role, so that we understand that she is above all our opinions, science and religions.

    FNE: What budget is needed for a film that takes 10 years to shoot?

    Petr Vachler: The total investment in the film will probably be up to 10 m USD. It's a guess and not that important to me. The important thing is that the film is free of advertising, product placement and television and distributors interests. There are only private donations, for which we are grateful and which we will still need. The film does not even have dramaturgical supervision. It is free and internally responsible. I am reconciled to the possible loss as well as the possible profit.

    FNE: What was the schedule of shooting days and when should the film be completed?

    Petr Vachler: We devoted over 60 filming days to shoot the respondents. Based on that, a script was created. That took two years. We needed another 40 days to shoot the fictional part. For many years we worked on editing and tricks in a team of 30-40 people. Recently, we shot again with the actors, who got 10 years older. The film is practically finished now.

    FNE: How did you manage to keep faith during the development + 10 years of shooting?

    Petr Vachler: When you have faith, it doesn't matter how many weeks, months, years, or lifetimes it takes. What matters is how the process changes you. How your film turns out is less important. You made it the best you could at that moment. After the change you go through, you make a different, maybe even more interesting film. I have been experiencing a change and the film is an expression of it.

    FNE: Who will distribute the film in the Czech Republic and abroad?

    Petr Vachler: Falcon in the Czech Republic and Itafilm in Slovakia. We already have recommendations for major foreign festivals from prominent personalities, which pleases me.

    FNE: What audience is the film intended for?

    Petr Vachler: I tested the film on many people including students, old people, scientists and esotericists. Some have already seen the film five times and still say they would go again. I hope they are not making fun of me. Someone told me that it is not a film but an event. Many say they have never seen anything like it. I have distanced myself from the film now and let everyone think what they want.

    Production Information:

    Vachler Art Company (Czech Republic)
    Contact: https://themeaningandmysteryoflife.com/contact/

    Ctirad Hemelík, Karel Janeček

    Director: Petr Vachler
    DoP: Karel Fairaisl
    Main cast: Jan Budař, Barbora Seidlová, Josef Polášek, Andrea Kerestešová, Vladimír Javorský, Petr Buchta, Theodor Vachler, Aneta Krejčíková, Valerie Vachlerová, Viliam Vachler, Robert Jašków, Hanuš Bor

    Official website: https://themeaningandmysteryoflife.com